11 December Mr Young and I decide, in an excitingly spur-of-the-moment sort of way, to go to Stamford on the train for lunch today. It is only a thirteen-minute journey, and will have the added benefit of allowing Mr Young to enjoy a glass or two of wine – should he choose to do so (as if there was any question of him not choosing to do so, but still we maintain this pretence).
There are gaggles of policemen standing around at the station, looking serious and important in neon jackets. Actually, ‘gaggles’ does not sound suitably respectful and I could probably be arrested for it, although I am not sure what the collective noun for policemen should be. Huddle? Horde? Swarm? Pack? Herd?
(There you go, a Christmas quiz game idea for free. Come up with new collective nouns. Hours of fun for all the family. Thank me later.)
One of the reasons for our Stamford trip, and for the fill-in-your-own-words of policemen at the station is that it is apparently all going to ‘kick off’ in our own city centre today. Mr Young and I were going to pop over to Caffe Nero for a skinny cappuccino and a black Americano, but it looks as if we might have to fight our way through crowds of shouting, angry protesters to get there – and that’s just the usual Christmas shoppers.
An EDL march is due to take place; I’ve been sent emails and been given several leaflets, all warning me to stay away from the city centre, which is the reason for all the extra policemen hanging around. Clearly our local law enforcement is not going to take any chances; whether the potential troublemakers arrive by foot, bus, train, taxi or bicycle, our boys/girls in blue (well, neon ) will be ready and waiting, armed with their serious expressions.
We arrive in Stamford and decide to have lunch straight away. It is 1.15 and I am hungry, so we go to Jim’s Yard. I have already given Mr Young strict instructions not to let me have anything other than a salad, in accordance with my pre-Christmas diet.
Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any salads on the menu (or perhaps I am just holding it in such a way that the salad section is completely obscured by my thumb) so I have to go for whitebait, risotto and chocolate fondant with icecream, washed down with Sauvignon Blanc.
Yup, I absolutely have to. I have no choice. I have a gun to my head. (All right, not exactly a gun, more sort of my own finger pretending to be a gun so I feel better about the whole thumb-over-the-salad-section ruse. You do what you have to do.)
Afterwards, full, flushed and somewhat poorer, we go up to the antiques warehouse on the main street.
There is a reason for this; it's not just an arbitrary post-lunch wander-about. Ever since he watched Jamie Oliver’s recent series, Mr Young has been intent on building up what he refers to as an ‘eclectic’ collection of serving dishes and so we regularly visit these sort of places, looking at random pieces of china.
We never buy anything; they are always too blue (as in colour, not subject matter), or too small, or too square. Every time I ask Mr Young exactly what he is looking for, he just says vaguely, “Oh, I’ll know it when I see it.” He never does seem to ‘see it’, but at least it keeps him happy for half an hour, wandering about and peering at scabby old bits of china.
Every so often I hold up a dish and call to him across the room, “How about this one?”
But each time, he looks back at me witheringly and shakes his head. “Too blue,” he says, or, “I don’t like the gold bits”, or “Far too small”. It’s fortunate I’m not after a job as a stylist for Jamie Oliver. I’d clearly be rubbish.
Empty-handed as usual, we return to Peterborough on the train. Walking home, eight police vans whizz by at an impressive speed with their sirens shrieking.
“Riot police,” says Mr Young confidently. “They’ll all be sitting in the back with their riot shields.” Because of the noise of the sirens, I mishear this as ‘in their riot shorts’ and question him about this with interest. “No, riot shields, you stupid woman!” he shouts at me.“Why on earth would they be wearing riot shorts? How is that going to help them in a riot emergency? ‘Move back, sir, or I will have to bring out the knees?’”
This is actually quite funny, although I try not to laugh too much (it doesn’t do to let him get above himself).
In any case, I am too busy congratulating myself for having come up with a new collective noun, which is absolutely perfect.
A knobble of knees.
I shall have to write to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.